Posts Tagged ‘Wedding Planning’

Plan Your Napa Valley Wedding with Cole Drake Events: Q&A

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Sylvie Gil

Northern California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys both top the destination wish lists of countless to-be-wed couples in Houston, and, indeed, all over the world. One of the region’s premier event planning firms, Cole Drake Events has a deep knowledge of the area and its wedding choices, and with her genetically determined passion for parties—her mother is an event-industry icon who plans major bashes for nonprofits and California cities—co-founder Stephanie Cole spends each working day guiding wedding couples through the hills and valleys of wine-country wedding planning. Here, she offers a bit of that renowned Cole Drake know-how to Houston to-be-weds—one of her most beloved destination demographics: “They’re always so much fun to work with!”

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Briana Marie Photography

Weddings in Houston: How important are Texas-based couples to the region’s wedding scene—and why do you think Napa-Sonoma is such a strong draw for Texas to-be-weds?

Stephanie Cole: Every year it seems to be that about half our wedding business comes from Texas. Napa-Sonoma has it all in my opinion: picturesque scenery, world-renowned cuisine, marvelous mixology programs, amazing wines and perfect weather (meaning no humidity, y’all). It’s easy to see why it’s such a strong draw as a destination wedding location!

WIH: What’s the best way for a Houston couple to get a feel for the region before planning their wine-country destination wedding?

SC: The best way to get a feel for the region is to come out here…come on, I’ll twist your arm to come taste wine, eat amazing food and enjoy the beautiful weather! Once a couple has made the decision to get married in wine country, the most important thing to do is find and book a local wedding planner. They can listen to what you want in the area and offer suggestions for wedding venues. They can eliminate a lot of research for you, and, if they’re good, they’ll know all of the right people to contact to check availability.

Some couples only want Napa County—I mean, I am a Napa local, so I get it. But Sonoma County has a ton of hidden gems too. Healdsburg and Sonoma are postcard-worthy towns that are underrated due to Napa’s huge name recognition.

In Napa County, Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga are my favorite towns, and can all be considered wine country chic.

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Aaron Delesie

WIH: What local activities or attractions should be part of a fabulous wine-country destination-wedding weekend?

SC: Wine tasting (duh) cannot be missed. One of my favorite activities for a wedding group is to have them blend their own wine! There are several wineries that offer this unique option, where guests are teamed up—we randomly pick teams by numbering off—and given specific assignments. The team creates their own wine blend together (imagine beaker, goggles and lab coat), while individually each member is responsible for other tasks (label creation, marketing strategy, financials, etc.).

After corking the wine and presenting to the judges, an overall winner is decided. It’s a great way to break the ice with people that may not have a chance to meet and mingle otherwise.

Croquet brunch at Meadowood Resort is another fantastic option. Guests dressed in all white—with fabulous sunglasses to hide the effects of the killer wedding the night before—can learn from Meadowood’s resident croquet master the skills and rules of the game before letting loose! Coupled with a brunch buffet, including a Bloody Mary bar and/or a mimosa bar, it’s one of the best ways to end your weekend celebration.

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Sylvie Gil

WIH: On the culinary side, what can couples expect from local dining options?

SC: Napa County certainly boasts world-renowned cuisine. We have the Restaurant at Meadowood (with three Michelin stars), the French Laundry in Yountville (with three Michelin stars), and countless one-Michelin-star-rated restaurants. Fun fact: Yountville itself claims the most Michelin stars per capita of anywhere in North America.

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Jose Villa

WIH: How can a Houston couple bring wine, and wine culture, into their Napa-Sonoma destination wedding?

SC: If a couple is in love with wine, food and wine pairings or tasting menus are the best ways to showcase it. We work with some of the best sommeliers and chefs in the area and can have them pair wines with cuisine for wedding couples and their guests.

For the wedding, small touches of wine country are definitely noticed. Utilization of barrels (don’t worry, we have a lot of them), personalized signs printed on cork, and finished wood farm tables with fashionable wine country chairs scream wine country chic.

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Sylvie Gil

WIH: What advice do you have for couples who are considering a Northern California wine-country destination wedding…but may be hesitant about bucking the tradition of a big Texas nuptial bash?

SC: For my Texas clients, it generally takes them one trip to wine country as a couple (often during their courtship, or as the site of the proposal) to fall in love with the place. After they get engaged and think about their future wedding, they immediately think again of this beautiful place.

The most common concern is distance—but that’s where a planner makes it so easy. A wedding planner who is based in Napa or Sonoma knows the area, knows the key partners and knows what to expect. Your planner can offer suggestions to you (think about her as your matchmaker for your wedding dreams) and can even help you save money (and avert disasters). Simply put, planners are trained to eliminate the stress and to make your wedding vision come to fruition.

Finally, more often than not, we hear our clients lamenting that if they were to have a wedding in Texas, it would be a 300-to-400-person affair, which can be overwhelming. Here in wine country, our Texas-based wedding groups usually range in the 120-to-150-guest mark.

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Sylvie Gil

WIH: We know that Texas couples are awesome…so tell us, why do you love Lone-Star-state lovebirds so much?

Year after year, Texas couples are seriously some of my favorite couples, and often become personal friends after the wedding. They always have a vision of what they want for their destination wedding, but they also have an open mind for new ideas and cost-saving suggestions. Plus, they are the sweetest and most thoughtful couples I have ever met!

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Sylvie Gil

5 Ways to Plan a Socially Conscious Wedding by Cup of Charisma

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Join us in welcoming Jillian Goltzman, the creator of Cup of Charisma, to the Houston Wedding Blog! Jillian founded her Houston-based blog, which just so happens to be a favorite among the HWB team, to help others learn how to give back to their community in style! Keep reading to see her five ideas on how to use the biggest day of your life to bring comfort, joy and love to those who need it most.

Cup of Charism_ Lipstick and Brunch© 9 (1) Photo: Lipstick and Brunch

Social consciousness may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a day that’s all about you and the one you love, but introducing a cause to your wedding ceremony can make you and your guests feel an even deeper sense of compassion and connection. Giving back actually can create a feeling known in scientific circles as the “giver’s glow,” where dopamine and endorphin levels rise, making you feel euphoric and tranquil.

Planning a wedding built on social good can give you a sense of purpose and gratification that last long after you leave the dance floor and say goodnight. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite ideas for introducing philanthropy into your big day.

1. Find Your Dress — We all dream of saying “yes to the dress,” but how great would it feel to find a dress that makes someone else feel as good as you will when you walk down the aisle? There’s an under-publicized market for fair trade, eco-friendly and charitable gowns that are as gorgeous and intricate as anything you’d find in a boutique.

Celia Grace, a nationally-acclaimed wedding dress designer, empowers dressmaking women in Cambodia and India with fair trade income that helps break the cycle of poverty. To make the deal even sweeter, Celia Grace will donate one school uniform to a Cambodian child in need for every dress sold.

Pure Magnolia Couture  Photo: Courtesy of Pure Magnolia Couture

Eco-friendly environmentalists will love Pure Magnolia Couture, an Etsy shop that creates sustainable dresses from recycled fibers. If you’re more of a fundraising gal, buy a dress or donate your own to Brides for a Cause, an organization that raises money for various women’s causes.

2. Pop the Question to Your Bridal Party — Give your bridal party a gift that gives back. When sending your bridal party announcements, throw in a token of appreciation that they can wear down the aisle in social good style.

Cup of Charisma 5_Jillian Goltzman  Photo: Jillian Goltzman | Earrings: Sasa Designs | Paper Products: Cause Box

Support physically challenged women and men in impoverished countries with understated and elegant earrings from Sasa Designs. To help fund college tuition for inner-city students in the United States, pop the question with the bridesmaid collection from The Shine Project.

3. Get Ready in Style — Pamper yourself and your maids with socially conscious staples when getting ready for your big day. Define Me Fragrance, a cruelty-free perfume company, donates $1 from every bottle sold to She’s The First, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to girls in low-income countries with the goal of creating first-generation graduates.

Cup of Charisma 8_Jillian Goltzman  Photo: Jillian Goltzman | Perfume: Define Me Fragrance | Hair ties: Banded | Necklace: The Giving Keys

When your girl gang decides to let loose on the dance floor, Banded hair ties will sweep up their locks into the perfect top knot while providing three meals to a child in Uganda, Latin America or the Caribbean.

4. The Centerpieces and Bouquets — Incorporate positive prints and philanthropic accents within your table decor at your “feel good” festivities. DEW Collection bouquets make thoughtful centerpieces, since the company plants a tree for every arrangement purchased, in partnership with the organization One Tree Planted. After all is said and done, donate your wedding flowers to Floranthropy, an organization that will deliver your event blooms to assisted living homes, hospitals and nonprofit organizations throughout Houston.

Cup of Charisma 4_ Jillian Goltzman  Photo: Jillian Goltzman | Bouquet: DEW Collection

5. Cater with Care — When working with a catering service, ask if they have a food rescue program in place. If not, have a volunteer from your bridal party bring the feast’s leftovers to a local shelter. Check out this list of Houston homeless shelters to get your giving juices flowing.

See?? The shift from “I do,” to “I donate,” is easier than you thought! Happy giving, xoxo, Jillian Goltzman from  Cup of Charisma,

Guest Post: Gray & Associates Events on How to ‘Celebrate Well’ on Your Wedding Day

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Join us in welcoming Shaun Gray, the wedding planner extraordinaire behind Gray & Associates Events, to the Houston Wedding Blog! Shaun and his team strive to help wedding couples “celebrate well,” sometimes with a grand, traditional wedding in Houston, other times with a beachside-blowout in Galveston… and always with a well-stocked supply of Champagne. We asked Shaun to explain exactly what it means to “celebrate well,” and for his advice to wedding couples who want to do just that!

5-25088302 copy  Photo: Courtesy of Gray & Associates Events

At Gray & Associates Events, we know that you want to host a wedding celebration that your family will cherish and your friends will love, and one that both you and your partner get to enjoy — without having to do excessive work! That’s what we call being able to “celebrate well.”

Here are my five tips to assist you in doing everything you can throughout the planning process to ensure you and your beloved get to celebrate well at your wedding:

1. Do You — Don’t get caught up in what your bridesmaid did at her wedding last year, or pay too much attention to Aunt Linda’s constant reminders that peonies are so beautiful during this time of year. If you don’t want peonies, then it doesn’t matter. If you keep trying to find ways to appease your family and friends, your wedding will look more like a thrown-together version of 50 other people’s weddings, and less like a celebration to honor your new union.

2. Go Big Before You Go Small — Worry about your venue, your wardrobe, your food and your photographer first. If you haven’t selected a venue yet, then stop Pinning “5 Farm Tablescapes Everyone Will Swoon Over,” especially if you aren’t set on having a rustic-style wedding. If you try to force a preconceived theme on a venue that doesn’t lend itself well to your theme, then it’s pointless to book the venue, so keep looking. 

abbienathansparklers copy Photo: Courtesy of Gray & Associates Events

3. Hire A Planner — Weddings In Houston is a great resource to find our great city’s top event planning experts. Even if you’re not looking to “celebrate well,” any professional planner will assist you with navigating the many tasks, that, without professional help, can get you really stressed out during the months before you say, “I do.”

4. Rest The Night Before — I cannot stress this enough! If you’re a bride, make sure that your makeup and hair team don’t put you in the chair first, and take that time to relax. They’re just going to have to come back and refresh you anyway, so you can afford to have them start on you a little later and knock out some of your bridesmaids first. For guys, make sure not to get tanked the night before your wedding. You’ll wake up groggy (and probably a little sick!) and that isn’t a good look for anyone, especially on the day of your wedding!

5. Stick To Your Budget — We always make sure that we don’t put a bride in a $10,000 gown when she only wanted to spend $6,500, because, knowing all of our luck, she’d get emotionally attached to the higher-priced gown, and then be disappointed when it was too far outside of her budget. The same thing goes for your overall wedding budget. If you’re spending $50,000 on your wedding, don’t let your floral designer work you up a proposal for $25,000. But for Champagne, now, that’s a different story…

image1 Shaun Gray (middle) and two of his associates | Photo: Karie Marie Photography 

Shaun and his team really know how to make the magic happen. Interested in getting his tips and expertise throughout your entire wedding planning process? Set up a consultation with Gray & Associates Events today! Be sure to mention you heard his tips first on the Houston Wedding Blog!

Venues We Love: Hotel Galvez & Spa, Plus EXCLUSIVE Booking Offer

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Hotel Galvez

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Galvez & Spa

You guys… We are SO excited to set our sights on Galveston this week: specifically, the gorgeous Hotel Galvez & Spa, aka the “Queen of the Gulf,” aka the most storied resort on the Texas coast, aka one of our favorite spots for destination weddings (at a destination VERY close to Houston proper)!!

OK, so here’s the scoop: A couple of weeks ago we were thrilled to randomly select bride-to-be and I Do! Wedding Soiree attendee Paige as the winner of our awesome Hotel Galvez Romance + Spa + Brunch Weekend Getaway GIVEAWAY. She was pretty thrilled, too (“OMG, I’ve never won ANYTHING before, I’m so EXCITED!!” were her exact words).

This week Hotel Galvez is back in our spotlight again, and we’re showcasing just how fabulous your event — whether it’s your dream destination wedding, engagement party, bridesmaids’ weekend or bachelorette escape — can be at this one-of-a-kind historic property.

Hotel-Galvez

Photo: Lindsay Elizabeth Photography

Our most beloved Hotel Galvez celebration spaces? Let’s start with Centennial Green. If you read our magazine, follow our blog and/or get with us on social, there’s no doubt you’ve seen pix of beautiful wedding ceremonies on this spectacular expanse of lawn stretching out toward the Gulf of Mexico just off in the distance.

Hotel-Galvez

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Galvez & Spa

For indoor wedding ceremonies and regal receptions, the historic Music Hall is an enduring Hotel Galvez favorite—maybe it’s the ornate arches…or the soaring ceilings…or the dazzling chandeliers? Maybe all three??

Hotel-Galvez

Photo: Adam Nyholt

And for tropical pool views AND indoor elegance, we swoon for weddings that take advantage of both the Terrace Ballroom and Veranda. Seriously, can you imagine anything more awesome than “I do’s” on the lawn, followed by cocktails overlooking a beautifully landscaped terrace, segueing into a feast focused on Gulf seafood and Southern favorites, accompanied by your nearest and dearest?

Akil Bennett | Houston Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Photo: Akil Bennett Photography

Oh — and one last bit of good news as you fall into your Hotel Galvez wedding fantasy: Get your Hotel Galvez wedding contract signed by April 30, and you’ll score your choice of ONE of the following fabulous upgrades, just for being a Weddings in Houston reader (not available on previously signed contracts)!

  • Dark Mahogany Chiavari Chairs
  • Gold Chargers
  • Champagne Toast
  • Sunday Brunch for 6 Guests
  • Large Poolside Cabana for 6 Guests

Haven’t visited Hotel Galvez in person yet? Now’s the time! Click here for contact information, and schedule your Hotel Galvez & Spa tour. And make sure to tell them you found them on the Houston Wedding Blog!!

Galvez-Select Studios

Photo: Select Studios

Houston Wedding Planners and Wedding Stylists at the I Do! Wedding Soiree

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Kat Creech Events-Ama Photography&Cinema Photo: Ama Photography & Cinema  | Design: Kat Creech Events

You’ve likely been dreaming of your wedding day for years! But turning those dreams into reality can be tougher than it looks. Whether you crave a small and intimate affair, or a lavish celebration, complete with Champagne fountain and late-night fireworks, a professional wedding planner will be your greatest asset as you create the wedding celebration of your dreams. You want to enjoy your wedding day and planning process, after all, not be bogged down by contracts and minutia!

Three super-talented wedding consulting and styling firms will be demonstrating their wedding planning expertise and styling know-how at tomorrow evening’s I Do! Wedding Soiree. Meet A Day to Remember, Kat Creech Events and Bourbon & Lace, and find out how these planning pros can find your ideal vendors, and help you stay relaxed AND get the most for your wedding budget, as they help you transform your inspiration board into reality! Take a look at the photos to see some of their impressive work.

A Day To Remember-Serendipity Photography Photo: Serendipity Photography | Design: A Day to Remember

Advance-sale tickets are available now for the I Do! Wedding Soiree, TOMORROW, Feb. 28th from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Corinthian. Be sure to get them before they sell out, and we’ll see YOU at I Do!

Bourbon & Lace Photo: Courtesy of Bourbon & Lace